- "The fellow wasn't a mere boy, either, Ivan saw as they came up to him and By; he was at least in his mid-thirties. There was something oddly familiar about him. Damned if he didn't look a true Vorrutyer—that hair, those eyes, that smirking swagger."
- ―Ivan meets Dono[src]
Donna Vorrutyer was the eldest or only daughter of the former ruling Count Vorrutyer, who was likely the grandson of Count Pierre "Le Sanguinaire" Vorrutyer. Her brother was Pierre Vorrutyer. Lady Donna was regarded as a beauty:
- "She must be almost forty now; he wondered if she'd started to run to fat yet. On her, it might look good. Ivory skin, wicked black hair to her hips, and smoldering brown eyes like embers. . . ."
- ―Ivan, considering Lady Donna[src]
Donna was married at least three times and enjoyed liasions with numerous men, Ivan Vorpatril among them, along with the future Count Vorpinski. She and Countess Vormuir often went target-shooting together, and became friends. She did not move in the same social circles as Lady Alys.
Prior to the events of A Civil Campaign, Donna was no longer married to her third husband (the cause of the ending of this marriage is not given in text, but see below) and moved to the Vorrutyer's District to act as official hostess and unofficial District deputy for her brother. It was said that Donna wielded more clout than Pierre in the day-to-day matters of his own district.
- "You've really had surgery for... what did you do with... you didn't do that hermaphrodite thing, did you? Or where is... everything?"
"If you mean my former female organs, I jettisoned 'em with the rest of my luggage back on Beta. You can scarcely find the scars, the surgeon was so clever. They'd put in their time, God knows—can't say as I miss 'em."
- ―Ivan's reaction to former Lady Donna's sex change[src]
Count Pierre died of a heart attack at age 50, a common Vorrutyer trait. Unfortunately, Pierre left no heir of his body, and chose no heir before he died. This meant that the District would go to his cousin Richars Vorrutyer. Richars was disliked by most, including Pierre, but loathed by Lady Donna, as Richars had attempted to rape her when she was twelve, and after she fought him off, drowned her puppy as retaliation. Afterwards, Richars convinced his relatives that the puppy's death was Donna's own fault; only her cousin Byerly Vorrutyer believed Donna.
Faced with the unpalatable prospect of Richars becoming Count, Donna Vorrutyer filed an impediment against Richars, and, accompanied by Szabo and another Armsman, traveled to Beta Colony, where she underwent sex reassignment surgery to become a man, changing her name to Dono.
Upon his return to Barrayar, Dono called in a favor from Ivan Vorpatril to gain access to Emperor Gregor Vorbarra to present his case to inherit. Gregor allowed Dono's suit to proceed in a public manner, becoming a sort of silent backer. Dono later attended Miles Vorkosigan's disastrous dinner party, where he struck up an acquaintance with Olivia Koudelka.
Following a meeting with Richars, Miles formed an alliance with Dono and René Vorbretten, facing problems of his own, to get them confirmed in the Council of Counts. A directed lobbying campaign emerged from there, and Dono seemed to be making progress with his campaign, enough to cause Richars to become nervous and strike with underhanded tactics.
The night before the vote, Richars sent a team of men (hired by Byerly, who was acting as a double agent for Dono) to permanently reverse Dono's Betan surgery, thus disqualifying him as male so that he would be unable to inherit. However, the unexpected assistance of Ivan and Olivia meant that Dono escaped with only a leg wound.
Following the attack, Dono arrived in Council escorted by Counts Vorhalas, Vorpatril, Vorkalloner and Vorfolse. The first three were staunch Conservatives (Dono intended to pledge his vote to the Progressives, a reversal of the traditional Vorrutyer alignment), while Vorfolse, an independent, was outraged that Richars' attack had taken place on his property. All four voted for Dono's confirmation, severely weakening Richars' support, and Dono was named Count Vorrutyer, while Richars was taken into custody by Lord Vorbohn's men. Dono then cast his first vote for René's reconfirmation.
Behind the scenesEdit
The author has stated that Lady Donna's three marriages had ended in divorce, divorce, and then widowhood. See 101025.html for details.